Photo Woes

Photography is a hobby I find myself delving into more and more. I just upgraded my camera from a Fujifilm Finepix S2000HD; a camera that was a so-so point and shoot when I bought it two years ago…To a Canon EOS Rebel XTi; a venerable but extremely popular entry level SLR camera. Reason being, I wanted to gain the ability to take better pics, in exchange for more options and more hassle. So I’ve graduated from amateur to intermediate, I’d say! So far I’ve yet to eke out the level of quality I’ve seen others create using more experience and better lenses, but that will come. One thing I wanted to talk about though (can’t seem to think of a good way to segway into this haha) is human interest shots. People-photography and how awkward taking candid pictures is.

I really think people who go for pictures of candid subjects have to be the gutsiest people on earth. Or I’m just a gigantic coward. I don’t know…It all has to do with eye contact and interest level, I think. When someone’s pointing a camera at you, it means they’re interested in you. Are you going to look away and let them do what they’re doing, feigning uninterest? If you know the person, sure, you can go back to what you’re doing…Or if you’re already on display, performing for instance, the interest is explainable and so, you continue about your business. But if you’re walking down the street, or reading a book, and someone points a camera at you, what do you do, and how do you feel? You stare back, and maybe go back to what you were doing while watching out of the corner of your eyes. Or you simply say no and maybe even get a little weirded out because you’re entirely uninteresting to you. You’re just reading in the park; why’s this guy pointing a camera at you? 

It’s a touchy subject, I think, candid shots of people in everyday life, though I also think they’re some of the most interesting. But there are so many photo opportunities I let slide by because I don’t want to intrude. But the camera and the lens automatically create a distance between you and your subject; clicking the shutter turns you into the "other" and your subject into…Well, "the subject," and a truly separate entity. I may be going a bit too in depth in my musings but I think I’m not at all far off; I’d like to hear thoughts from other people that like to snap pictures of people. How does one stick a camera in someone’s face when they’re sitting at a bus stop reading a newspaper, just because you like the lines of their face and the way the smoke around their cigarette curls about their head? How does one walk into a ghetto burb and point a camera at kids at play without feeling like a creep? My subconscious tells me not to worry as I’m already being stared at here in China so who cares if I make an even bigger scene…But I also desire integration; I want to learn the language and hang out with people, not be a tourist. Getting a rep as the nosy American with a camera is not a good way to endear oneself to the locals.

I think I just need to press on and not over-think those photogenic moments on the streets of people and just DO it until someone actually makes an issue with me. Which has never happened save in my own head.


Categories: musings, Uncategorized


  1. Yeah, it’s a delicate balance. I don’t take a lot here of people either,, because people don’t usully like it. Heck, some of my friends don’t like it and they know I have a propensity for it. So yeah, don’t know what to say except play it by ear/eye. Just be prepared for someone to get pissed off, because it might happen. Just apologize and move on. I would also think about how you might go about posting pics of people online. I’m not sure how it would work in China, but I know a lot of events here you “give consent” when you attend or pay fees for them.

    It’s good to be thinking about it though

    I’m also excited – finally saved up here and there to get a decent SLR. I’ve been trying to get my photo fix with my Ipod touch, but it’s just not the same.

    PS. something I learned about the word “enthralled” from one of my favorite podcasts (since you say you are enthralled). Not sure if you knew it (but I will share anyway) enthralled originated from what that Vikings called slaves : “thralls.” So to be enthralled is – etymologically speaking – to be enslaved by someone/something.

    • Ahaha! I love picking apart words too, to determine their origins…Generally I’ll do that randomly and sometimes I get curious original definitions, like that one! (cant think of any examples, atm, but “enthrall” is a great one!)

      Do post when you get your camera and start shooting; have you decided to take those classes at ACC?

      • Will do, TS. Not sure about the classes. I will have to see how they fit in with my teaching schedule. But when I do get the camera (which I anticipate will be in the next few weeks or so) I will most definitely post pics 🙂

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